I.C.E. raids impact Skyline families

The story of two students

Beatriz Ramirez

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Almost everyday in the news we hear about people being deported, or I.C.E. raiding homes and businesses and taking immigrants into custody. These people being taken into custody can range from small children to adults over 40 years old. It happens all around us, even in Idaho, and our own Skyline students have had family members deported, which affects them daily as they go on with life. 

 

A Skyline junior who wanted to remain anonymous told us what it was like the day her dad was deported:

“I.C.E took my dad away Dec. 14, 2018, around 6:30 am. He was getting ready to leave for work, and when he headed out, he was followed by them and pulled over. Following that, he was taken away around 7 A.M., which is when I got a call on my phone and when I answered, it was my dad. He was telling me we knew this day would come. 

Seeing him a few minutes later at I.C.E headquarters was harder. We couldn’t hug him, we couldn’t see him unless it was behind glass, and after an hour of talking and discussing deportation, we had to leave. Feeling defeated and driving away, we had to tell my mom and call family we thought could help us plan for him leaving or save money that we could send to him there. Honestly, anything we could do, but as soon as we called to tell my mom, she had already started panicking. It turned out that word had got to my mom already when we had called one of our family members to ask for help in planning for my dad, and when we told him not to tell my mom he did it anyway. 

We couldn’t have any contact until he was transported into Bonneville County Jail, and even then, we’d have to pay every phone-call for a limited amount of time. Christmas was lonely, New Year’s was bland, Valentine’s Day felt emotionless, birthdays were just sad, especially my mom’s. My dad brought a lot of joy, love and support into our home, and not having any of that for the things we would usually enjoy felt heartbreaking. My dad would buy each of us roses to remind us he will always be the first man to love us and appreciate us, and then spoil my mom with roses, a bear and dinner. So yeah, him being taken was rough and him getting to Mexico felt more real knowing he wasn’t anywhere near us anymore.”

As she reflected on this difficult experience, she shared, “In ways, I hope no one will ever understand, but I’m not the only person out there with an immigrant family member. In the beginning it was really hard, everything felt out of place and it felt like no one would understand. The sympathy wasn’t helpful, the ‘I’m sorrys’ were meaningless and everything felt pointless. My confidence in the law were low, my trust with people was non-existent and my family felt alone–especially when family members or friends asked us about our problem. 

Everything felt wrong; my concentration in things I enjoyed was gone. It felt traumatic. I didn’t know whether to feel mad or sad or just nothing at all. Especially with my mom and sisters, knowing how much it would affect things at home or things in the future or just how I’d get older or even graduate… It all came at once. Financially, mentally, physically it destroyed us in the beginning. 

We didn’t have a choice on whether or not to just cry all day; we had to keep going and figure out how to change our life-style so we could actually afford it now that we lost a big part of our income. We are definitely stronger now, but we’re so broken and we always miss our family member. No holiday or outings feel the same, because we always get asked about him. Seeing other families outside of our home makes us sad, because it feels like we’ll never be like that again. We make do, we appreciate one another, but me and my sisters miss our dad, and my mom misses her husband and we all miss the feeling of a father figure in our house.”

 

Sadly, stories like hers are relatively common. Each year, millions of people from around the world immigrate to the United States. These immigrants can range from people who come here to escape the violence in their country, to workers, coming and looking for a better job in order to get a better future for themselves or their children.

 

“Both my parents were what you would call ‘High School Sweethearts,’ although they never got the opportunity to actually go to high school,” this same junior told us. “There isn’t much opportunity in Mexico for a future outside of selling food or being involved in the law, that’s mainly ignored. That isn’t all the opportunities there was, but with where they lived in Mexico, there wasn’t much else unless you had enough money, so sometimes you’d just farm and survive off of selling trade-able goods. 

They both came at the age of 14 and wanted better for their future and future kids. It was a lot more for them at first, and then it developed to being a lot more for our future. They knew it would be hard not having as many privileges growing up and seeing police nearby felt terrifying, but as long as we were here and born here they knew we could do more than they ever had the opportunity to do. 

After my first-born sister turned 18, it was a lot calmer being ‘involved’ with the law and my mom getting her green card felt amazing, even if my dad wasn’t so lucky to get as far as getting his green card. For them to grow and adapt here wasn’t too hard, but they were cautious with everything. Fast food wasn’t completely new, but it was a luxurious treat in this house-hold in the beginning. Everything felt new, this town was small and open to making more and that’s how my parents remember Idaho Falls to this day.”

 

When asked the question “How do I.C.E raids impact you?”, a Skyline sophomore whose loved one also got deported, answered, “Well, my family and I are all documented and everything, but friends or family members who aren’t causes us to feel anxious for them because they’ve built a life here. They raised their family here and they’ll be separated, just because the system takes so long for them to get them their paperwork. When I was in middle school, I was beyond worried and upset because my best friend’s family is undocumented. I remembered when we heard that there were raids here in Idaho Falls, tears were falling down our faces because we were worried about his family. Luckily, nothing happened to them, but the sick feeling of being worried and scared still upsets me to this day.”

 

Fears of being separated due to deportation isn’t the only thing these students struggle with. They also have to struggle with insensitive comments that people or other students make about immigration and deportation. 

“It kind of makes me upset,” this sophomore shared, “because they will say things like ‘If they want to come over, they can just wait and get the paperwork and ‘do it right.’ To be honest, they don’t know what their reason to come was. If they were in danger or if they just need the money, they would also do anything they could to be able to get out of the situation. They don’t understand the reasons they come over for. They can be in serious danger and the only way out is to come over the border and the proper paperwork takes forever, so by the time they get their paperwork, it’s already too late. 

We had put in some paperwork work for my great grandma and that took 4 years to get them. You just can’t expect them to react in getting out of their situation. Or if their family member is sick, they don’t have the money to pay for their medical bills. Here in the U.S, they have way better work opportunities than in Mexico or wherever. You can’t just give hate on people trying to do better for their families. You just don’t know the reason or purpose is. So when people say that, it makes them sound heartless, like what reason do you have to assume or say that?”

The anonymous junior felt similarly: “Insensitive comments hurt. There is definitely a lot more I can lose at this point in my life, but any insensitive comment made feels like it’s made towards my dad. I get angry and don’t care anymore and just want to punch them in the face. Obviously, I wouldn’t do that, but it makes me want to come out and ask if they even know what it feels like getting someone important taken away without any choice or if they have any idea what separation, loneliness, fear, anxiety and trauma feels like in your own home. 

How can they say we deserve it? How can they say “they should’ve applied for a green card then none of this would’ve happened to them”? It isn’t that simple. Even today or before Donald Trump’s presidency, it took so much time to be approved for one, and even then it took time to wait for everything to lineup after. It’s not like buying a wallet, it’s not like grabbing a pencil, it isn’t simple to just do it. You think if it was like that, then every immigrant would have their green card. If the roles were reversed, I’d bet so much they’d defend themselves and their status as much as I am because guess what, things would look different if you knew what it was like on this side of the picture. 

It doesn’t mean your life’s stalled, and who are those who make insensitive comments to think they got the right to say anything about it at all? You got your opinions and those are fine, that’s one thing, but another thing is putting it on yourself to think you have a right to say that we have no right to ours. 

This is real, and I don’t like fighting against you because you feel real big saying anything and everything negative and hurtful towards immigrants, but I’ll fight for my dad and any parents or family members that get taken away from their family. I appreciate every single friend and family member who’s helped encourage me to rise up against the odds that have happened in my families life. I am stronger, I asked for help from people I thought I could count on, I made a phone call that very day and even though the person I thought could be there for me, couldn’t care less. 

I know now that rough patches in life will happen, you’ll lose people you thought you’d count on and find people who actually care enough about your privacy. The most important thing in all of this is not giving up. It’s hard and seems impossible, but at the end of the day when you go to bed after all of this, you still wake up the next day. Life goes on, with or without you, and wasting time doing nothing puts you behind, so do that family member a favor. They didn’t get a chance to move forward; you do. If you want any encouragement, do it for them. Most importantly, do it for you because this isn’t the end of your life or your story, it’s just a part of it.” 

 

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